Baltimore Police Officer Jacob Reed testified about the incident, by referring to his report. At 12:40am, he received a call for shots fired at the establishment. Before he went inside, he spoke with an eyewitness who told him that someone had just shot a couple rounds inside the bar. The witness pointed to the suspects, who were in a nearby parking lot. There were three Hispanic males beating up on another Hispanic male, kicking and hitting him. One of the three was holding a semiautomatic handgun. The suspects ran away; the suspect with the handgun was caught by Lieutenant Colburn nearby. The other two were also caught by police. The police then rendered aid to the person on the ground. Officer Reed then went into the bar and found shell casings on the floor by the pool table. He spoke to the staff through a translator, because none of them spoke English. The surveillance cameras for the establishment were not working at the time, so there was no footage to inspect. Through Officer Reed’s investigation, he found that there had been an altercation between three males (all cousins or brothers of one family) with two other males over a pool game. “People were being punks,” Officer Reed explained. Fernando Valenzuela, one of the three, shot into the floor; the others broke pool sticks and glassware.
Officer Reed noted that the criminal trial began the following day for all three suspects. Reed stated that they have been charged with assault, and their charges may have been upgraded to attempted homicide. Maryland Judiciary Casesearch for this case shows that the Valenzuelas have been charged with: attempted second degree murder, first degree assault, second degree assault, carrying a dangerous weapon openly with intent to injure, unlawful use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or crime of violence, and three conspiracy charges. Their scheduled trial has been postponed again and is currently scheduled for August 25, 2014.
Officer Reed said that he found a working metal detector wand sitting inside the building on one of the window ledges. The gun was retrieved outside the bar, thrown in a corner near a parking lot. There were two spent casings inside the bar, two live rounds in the chamber of the gun, and three more rounds in the magazine.
Mr. Eduardo Reyes, the licensee, was present, with his friend and translator, Mr. Ricardo Elias. Through Mr. Elias, Mr. Reyes testified that he lives in Dundalk, Maryland and has owned the bar since 2006. He said that he did know the Valenzuelas but that they were not regular customers. They come to the bar two or three times a week, but he does not know them personally and has never had trouble with them before. His security camera system had been down for a week before the incident, because his repairman was out of town. Mr. Reyes said that, from his understanding, the firearm was brought in by a woman. He only had male security guards, who were not allowed to search women, but now he has female security. Judge Ward was confused by this testimony and said that with a metal detector wand, it is not necessary to touch the patrons, so he was unclear why Mr. Reyes would need female security guards.
Mr. Kevin Bernhard, from the Highlandtown Community Association (HCA) testified about the history of the establishment. He said that there was another shooting inside the premises in July 2012, which was never heard by the Board. There was an assault on the door security guard in December 2013. The establishment also had a violation recently for keeping five-gallon propane tanks inside the building, and the Board will hold a hearing on that violation soon. There was a stabbing also on May 3, 2014, outside the bar. He asked, on behalf of HCA, for a revocation of the license.
|Other reasons given for decision
Judge Ward stated, “a license is a privilege, to be regulated and strictly watched, not a right.” He noted that the security system wasn’t working, in spite of the fact that the bar has a violent history. He also stated that a bar is always responsible for the conduct of the people who come in and purchase its goods. “So in this particular case, we have customers coming in and acting in a violent manner, who have been there before, who he’s had a chance to observe, shooting into the floor, and engaging in a violent manner. A bar owner is responsible for policing his own establishment.”